Welcome to the first review of this season’s Hotel Impossible episodes. The first show of the new season highlighted the Caribe Playa Beach Resort just a few feet off the beach in Puerto Rico. The small, 32 room hotel had seen a self-inflicted decline in business over the last few years.

Episode Recap – Love Hurts

The show started with host Anthony Melchiorri arriving (despite bad directions) to the hotel and taking his usual quick tour of the premises. The first sign of trouble was the condition of the beach which did not appear to be maintained. He then entered the hotel lobby only to find that it was severely outdated and served as a reading library, gift shop and back office.

After meeting with the owner’s wife and GM Frances, Anthony performed an hotel inspection and quickly found that hotel maintenance was being neglected. He also discovered that the hotel was not providing a few basic services such as not being able to order a drink by the pool and did not offer Wi-Fi or telephones in the rooms.

Accepting Responsibility

The most important part about this episode was that Anthony recognized that the GM was not effective and needed to be replaced. It is the GM’s responsibility to make sure that the hotels has the proper systems in place to be functional.

“Hotels are built on systems”

Source: Anthony Melchiorri

This was a tricky situation as the GM was also the owner’s wife and despite many years in the hotel business, the owner (George), had allowed love to obscure his business acumen. He also needed to take responsibility for this as all change starts at the top of an organization.

What happens to hotels when management loses control?

The impact of not having the good hotel systems in place was very apparent. Besides the beach area not being kept up other identified problems included:

  • Garbage cans with holes
  • Dirt, grime and sand buildup on the patio
  • Caked rust on ceiling fans
  • No secondary locks or deadbolts on guest room doors (needed for AAA rating)
  • Heavy dust buildup in rooms and common areas
  • Stained pillows with non-removable covers
  • Ceilings with chipped and peeling paint
  • Dank room conditions as result of proximity to ocean
  • Run down appearance of hotel
  • No Internet appeal or presence
  • Hair on the sheets

Compared to some of the hotels the show has visited in the past, this one was not in as bad of physical condition. The challenge with ocean properties is that maintenance must be continual to counter the effects of salt water spray, humidity and corrosion. Hotel properties on the beach must have great maintenance systems in place to prevent costly repairs.

The Fix for Caribe Playa Beach Resort

In keeping with the theme from last year’s shows, the key to fixing Caribe Playa Beach Resort was to first make a changes at the top. This was done about halfway through the show in a gut wrenching call by the owner George. A new GM was brought on board for a 30 day trial.

Although he was effective for the show, my understanding is that he was not retained past the 30 days. I make this point because it is unclear if the changes made will last. This is one weakness of the show. There is no follow up to previous hotels to gauge the effectiveness of Anthony’s changes.

Another major fix was the renovation of the hotel lobby and one room. Kudos to Blanche, she always does a good job. The room renovation was simple and inexpensive. It could easily be duplicated in the coming months.

The pool area was next up as the owner George and the temporary GM were able to re-establish pool service with a unique hotel identifying drink.

In the wrap up, the hotel was given a new communications setup that included room telephones and Wi-Fi capabilities (I think as it was unclear). The final piece gift was a new website that provided good directions to the hotel.

Unlike the previous season, this show did not focus on hotel maintenance or maintenance systems as one of the solutions. I hope Mr. Melchiorri reinforces the importance of hotel maintenance in upcoming episodes. Hotels systems are far more important that corporate sponsors looking to plug their product/names.

Tell us about the best hotels you have stayed at. Was maintenance noticeable? Come back next week for another recap of Hotel Impossible.